Last updateFri, 19 Oct 2018 1pm



Succession: Do You Have a Plan

VMA members attending the Valve Industry Leadership Forum, held Jan. 24-25 in Phoenix, heard three valve industry execs, each paired with one of their company’s future leaders, in a session called: “Leadership: Established vs. Emerging.” Sam Deep, author and leadership consultant, posed questions to the panel (representing Cameron Valves & Measurement, PBM Inc. and Rotork Controls), asking each what they are doing to develop and prepare future leaders. [We’ll be talking more about what Sam Deep and the panelists said in another article on ValveMagazine.com in the near future.]

What about your company? Do you currently have a strong chief executive? A visionary, perhaps, who has guided it to success, and who is an inspiration to both employees and stockholders? If so, you may be sitting on the edge of a precipice. What happens if that leader gets sick or dies? Will the company be able to right itself and continue, or will it lose its direction and be lost?

On Jan. 17 Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced he was taking an indefinite medical leave of absence. Over the next few days Apple stock, which had been rising steadily — up an astonishing 274% over the past two years — dropped more than 6%, despite reporting first quarter 2011 earnings of $6.43 per share, 16% above analyst estimates.

Granted, not many companies can trace so much of their success — their survival, in fact — to the leadership of one man, but that’s what Jobs did for Apple, even bringing it back from the edge of bankruptcy in 1997.

Yet the company’s stock seems to be recovering, up almost 2% as of mid-day Monday, Jan. 24. And the Jan. 22 edition of Barron’s “The Trader” column reported that Dan Chung, CEO of Fred Alger Management, had predicted that AAPL might hit $500 on annual earnings of $26 per share or more and $20 next year, driven by business purchases of the iPad and increasing international sales, and citing Apple’s careful planning for Jobs’s departure.

And that is key: a company that is heavily dependent on the leadership of one person will be severely harmed if anything happens to that person, but careful succession planning can go a long way to keep that from happening, or at least minimize it.

Now Apple may be a special case: Jobs had experienced severe medical problems twice before -- a liver transplant and pancreatic cancer -- and the company and its investors were probably better prepared than most. And Chung may be wrong. But so far things look pretty good. Can you say as much for your company?


DIY T-Shirt Cannon

Jim Cahill from Emerson Process Experts brought this to our attention. Getting kids involved in math & science can be a challenge, fun projects like this might rouse their interest:



Secret Life of Solenoid Valves

You really can find everything and anything on YouTube.


This clip is from a British show called The Secret Life of Machines. Here, a man uses several solenoid valves to spell out the word: UTOPIA.




State of the Fluid Power Ind.

In an article posted on June 3, “An Upside to the Downturn,” I mentioned a piece by Jeff Klingberg, President/CEO, Mountain Stream Group, Inc. in Product Design & Development entitled “Wake Up Fluid Power Industry Or Prepare For Extinction.” In that article Klingberg suggested electric actuators are making strong inroads into the U.S. fluid power industry largely because that industry has failed to embrace new technology. Environmental considerations (leaking and spilled hydraulic fluid) and energy conservation are the chief drivers, he said.


Klingberg emailed to thank us for the mention, and in replying I mentioned an article I wrote in PD&D for Feb 3, 2006 entitled “What Lies Ahead For Hydraulics?” At that time, I also cited Klingberg as having said the fluid power business seemed to be on a long slide, particularly at the low-power end. The article also pointed out that environmentally friendly hydraulic fluids like water and vegetable oil were little used, and cited Klingberg as saying they had received little publicity.


Well, not much seems to have changed in the past three years: fluid power is still declining. In Klingberg’s words, “The issues are exactly the same for the fluid power industry, but worse. This economic recession has really caused a lot of heartache for many manufacturers in the industry, especially at the mobile hydraulic end. There are a few that are at 1/16 of their sales from just last year. Employees who are being laid off are fed up with decisions of the corporate leaders.”


“If something radical doesn’t happen within the industry in the next 5-10 years,” he predicts, “especially from the pneumatic side of things it will be an extinct industry.”


We have three questions for readers: Is the industry really doomed? Can it be saved? And if so, how?


Email your answers/comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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